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. Oil Firms Under Pressure From Consumers

"Big-oil behemoths are making out like bandits, while the average American family is getting killed by high gas prices, and soon-to-be record heating oil prices," said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. "We need to fix this."

Washington (UPI) Nov 01, 2005
Major oil firms together amassed a staggering $32.8 billion in net income during the third quarter, as gas prices top $3 a gallon.

The figure includes earnings from ExxonMobil, BP, Royal Dutch/Shell, Chevron and ConocoPhillips. The announcement of record profits was attacked by critics and even some conventional allies.

ExxonMobil, making corporate history as the first U.S. firm to surpass $100 billion in quarterly sales, dominated the revenue for the group, which totaled $378 billion.

Shareholders may be enjoying profits but consumers are fuming, which is felt from Wall Street to Washington.

"Big-oil behemoths are making out like bandits, while the average American family is getting killed by high gas prices, and soon-to-be record heating oil prices," said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. "We need to fix this."

Oil firms tried to play down profits to mute some of the criticism by emphasizing the disruptions caused by hurricanes, the high cost of repairs and their humanitarian efforts in the storms' aftermath.

Since the Republican Party has a long history of close ties to the oil industry, House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., sought to distance the party from massive corporate earnings by asking energy firms to invest some of their profits in ways that ease energy's squeeze on consumer pocketbooks.

"It's time to invest some of those profits," Hastert said at a news conference in Washington.

Higher crude prices in the United States quickly stretched to global markets, while overseas operations reap in benefits from the hurricane-ravaged Mexican Gulf.

Crude increases were amplified on the Amex Oil Index, which measures the share performance of oil and gas companies. The index finished the quarter at 1,076.31 points, up 54 percent from a year ago.

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